Cancer Medicine – A Humbling Experience

In his brilliant 1998 book, Consilience, Edward O. Wilson, notes: “The cost of scientific advance is the humbling recognition that reality was not constructed to be easily grasped by the human mind.”

This sententious point has remained a guiding principle in my thinking about human cancer. It is critically important for scientific investigators to be humble. We are explorers in a field more complex than any man-made system. We must be instructed by biology – as biological events will always find a way to outsmart our best efforts to explain them.

I was reminded of E.O. Wilson, when a colleague forwarded a recent publication from Molecular Cancer Therapy, “Molecular Profiling of Patient with Colorectal Cancer and Matched Targeted Therapy in Phase I Clinical Trials,” Dienstmann, R. et al MOL CANCER THER Sept 2012. The study conducted by the Molecular Therapeutics Research Unit at Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, Spain, evaluated 254 patients for evidence of specific genetic aberrations. Their genomic analyses included, KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA, PTEN, and pMET. Patients were then provided clinical therapy trials that matched the targeted agents (drugs with activity against the specific mutation) with their individual mutation profiles

In all, 68 patients received treatment constituting a total of 82 different molecularly targeted therapies. The clinical response rate for this population of patients who received molecularly selected therapy was 1.2%. No that isn’t a typo; it was really one point two percent.

While I applaud the scientific concept of this trial and must admit that I might have expected a somewhat higher response rate, I am not surprised by the result. In keeping with E. O. Wilson’s quote, human biology is not a puzzle designed to be solved by humans; it is instead the complex product of a billion years of evolution. Rather than demanding that cancer patients respond to those treatments we have selected for them based on genetic information, we should be instructed by the tumor’s behavior of each patient and use those insights to select amongst active drugs, whatever genetic elements they may have been originally designed to target. In my lectures, I describe this approach as the wisdom of whole cell experimental models.

I am continually humbled by the complexity of human tumor biology and delighted to have the insights that my patient’s cancer cells provide through the functional profile created by our EVA-PCD assay. Not only do I gain exciting scientific knowledge, but my patients have very good responses to the drugs we select. Not a bad day’s work.

Yet Another Study Agrees: Functional Profiling Provides Insight

It was during the last weeks of December that a particularly interesting article crossed my desk. The study done by a group from Toronto, Canada, is entitled Variable Clonal Repopulation Dynamics Influence Chemotherapy Response in Colorectal Cancer. The study examined the proliferative capacity and drug sensitivity in colorectal cancer cells that were tracked using a process known as lentiviral lineage tracking. The investigators showed that despite serial passages, the cell populations remained stable from a genomic standpoint.

What was most interesting was the finding that these genomically related subpopulations became progressively more resistant to oxaliplatin after drug exposure, suggesting what they described as “inherent functional variability.”

As one of several investigators engaged in the field of functional profiling (EVA-PCD), I found the article both interesting and extremely consistent with our laboratory observations. First, cancer cells display biological differences that may reflect environmental (microenvironmental) influences, epigenetics and other drivers not readily identified at the DNA level.

Second, these investigators, using extremely sophisticated molecular techniques, found, as the lead investigator said, “We should not be putting our eggs exclusively in the genetics basket.” This quote from the lead investigator, John Dick, was particularly resonant.

As many of you who read my blogs know, a recurring theme in these pages is the need to broaden our scope and examine the protein, metabolic and functional characteristics of the cancer cells in their native state. Once again we find that as our most accomplished molecular brethren drill down to the bedrock of cancer biology, they are confronted by complexities and crosstalk that can only be effectively studied at the level of cell biology.

I wish all of readers of this blog a happy New Year, and look forward to a healthy and productive 2013.

Cancer and the Great Divide

There are two types of cancer patients: those we can treat and those we can’t. As I reflect on this year and the years past during which we have applied the process of laboratory-guided treatment, I am reminded of this fact.

The EVA-PCD functional profile enables us to choose active treatments for patients, but I have sometimes wondered whether we are, in fact, choosing patients for the available drugs.  While the end result may not be all that different, e.g. superior clinical outcomes over randomly administered (standard) therapies, the path to that outcome, leaves room for interesting discussion.

I first pondered this issue at the time of completion of our earliest study. That study was conducted in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Recognizing that the corticosteroids were among the most important drugs for ALL, we exposed freshly isolated lymphoblasts from ALL patients to dexamethasone (ex vivo). At the fourth day we measured the degree of cell death and separated the patients in “sensitive” and “resistant “ subgroups. Strikingly, those children whose lymphoblasts died in the laboratory following exposure to dexamethasone (ex-vivo), virtually all survived without relapse, while those children whose lymphoblasts did not die in the laboratory following dexamethasone exposure (ex-vivo) relapsed at an alarming rate with only 25 percent still alive at the sixth year of follow up (p=0.009).

What we had succeeded in doing by Day 4 of diagnosis was something that all the known prognostic factors, like age, WBC and male vs. female could not do, namely accurately identify the responders and survivors.

Today, when I test patients in our laboratory, I consistently double or even triple the response rates over standard protocols, yet a subset of patients are not found sensitive to the available therapies. Patients who do not respond to chemotherapy are today known, in the oncologic vernacular, as “failing therapy.” If we view these “non-responders” as a biologically distinct group (not unlike the dexamethasone-resistant ALL patients above) then our role, in the field of functional profiling, is to quickly segregate the responders (to available drugs) from the non-responders and move those “non-responders” immediately to something that will work for them. In this light, patients no longer “fail therapies” but instead “therapies fail patients.” It is then our mandate to use the ex-vivo platforms to find (and yes, discover) novel therapies and combinations that will meet their unmet need.

As the New Year is upon us I am filled with the expectation that 2013 will be one of discovery and innovation. Never before have so many interesting compounds been available for study. If we are fortunate enough to succeed in our efforts to collaborate with members of the drug development community and have the opportunity to intelligently apply functional profiling, for drug discovery, 2013 could be a very good year indeed.

A Tale of Two Trials

As I read through the November 10 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology there were two very different but highly instructive reports.

They first examined the impact of gemtuzumab ozogamicin for patients with acute myeloid leukemia. The second involved the incorporation of bevacizumab and erlotinib into the treatment of Stage III NSCLC in combination with radiation.

By way of introduction, gemtuzumab ozogamicin (GO) is an anti CD33 antibody linked to the highly toxic chemical calicheamicin. Calicheamicin, a member of enendyne class, is among the most toxic substances known to man. By linking this poison to an antibody directed against leukemia cells, it was reasoned that this novel conjugant would provide an effective therapy for leukemia. And indeed it did. But despite compelling science and what appeared to be initially good results (particularly in older patients with AML), and FDA approval for the agent, the drug was withdrawn from the market. Now, with the publication of a new study from the United Kingdom, GO is once again in the limelight as its inclusion in induction therapy resulted in a statistically significant three-year relapse-free survival advantage (p=.0007) and three year overall survival advantage (p=.05).

It appears, with regard to GO, that the clinical trial process failed to identify the clinical utility of an active and novel form of therapy for a potentially lethal disease.

The second article of interest regards a pilot study that incorporated an anti-VGEF antibody (bevacizumab) with EGFR TKI (erlotinib) along with chemotherapy and radiation. In this trial the objective response rate of 39 percent, median progression-free survival of 10.2 months and median overall survival of 10.4 months, were not demonstrably superior to contemporary results, yet toxicity was significantly enhanced. The investigators recommended against further exploration of this combination. Here the aggressive integration of targeted and conventional therapies proved a misadventure.

While these two reports are very different, they represent similar failings of the contemporary clinical trial process. The GO experience reflects the failure to identify efficacy due to contemporary clinical trial’s dilution of the benefit in select candidates, mixed in the overall population, with limited responsiveness to the agent. The second trial represents clinicians’ desire to engage in theoretically attractive clinical trials only to find that they reflect ineffective and/or more toxic treatment regimens.

On one hand, laboratory models that accurately identify responders can segregate those most likely to benefit from those who will not. GO represents just one of many interesting new classes of drugs for whom selective methodologies could prove highly valuable. The lung cancer experience reflects the failure of the research community to dedicate adequate resources to predictive clinical models.

Combinations of chemotherapy with target therapies have been the subject of investigation in our laboratory for more than a decade. For example, we observed antagonism between platins and the EGFR antagonists (gefitinib and erlotinib) two years before publication of the unsuccessful INTACT I and II Trials and three years before the unsuccessful TALENT and TRIBUTE trials.

All four of these trials combined platin based doublets with EGF-TKI’s. More recently we successfully identified favorable interactions between erlotinib and VGEF inhibitors in individual patients that have provided durable responses in our NSCLC patients as first line therapy, now out to four and five years since diagnosis. These experiences represent opportunities to explore novel therapies and avoid inadvertent antagonisms and misadventures.  In the recent JCO, a good treatment was missed while a bad treatment was advanced.

Functional profiling through use of the EVA-PCD® assay may represent the “critical path” from bench to bedside that the deputy director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration, Janet Woodcock has described as a crying need.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

With November designated as Lung Cancer awareness month we have the opportunity to focus national attention on this disease, the leading cause of cancer death in America.

It may come as a surprise to many that lung cancer causes more deaths than prostate, breast and colorectal cancer combined. Lung cancer is the big kahuna. And up until the last several years, no one seemed to be paying much attention. It may be that people considered lung cancer a disease associated with cigarette smoking and therefore, in some way, the individual victim’s fault. However, we are now witness to a changing biology wherein the predominant histology of lung cancer, previously squamous cell, has transitioned to adenocarcinoma.

While the incidence in males has fallen, the incidence in females has risen. Strikingly, the incidence of lung cancer in non-smokers is rapidly climbing. Indeed, up to 20 percent of lung cancers today do not appear to be directly related to cigarettes or known exposures at all.

Our recent publication of a clinical trial in lung cancer patients was highly instructive. First, we were able to double the response rate and nearly double the survival through functional profiling (EVA-PCD®).

Second, there was no “right” treatment for patients. Different treatment combinations worked best for each patient with no single combination working for all.

Third, many patients did well with first line targeted agents. In fact, several long-term survivors have never received any form of cytotoxic chemotherapy, despite widely metastatic disease at presentation.

Several questions remain. Among them, the role of the repeat biopsies in patients with recurrent disease.  Several patients under my care have undergone additional biopsies each time a recurrence was documented with the new assay findings guiding us to a different treatment regimen. It is not impossible to imagine a day when cancer treatments will be modified and changed the way contemporary internists switch antihypertensives or cholesterol lowering drugs. That is, lung cancer like these maladies is becoming a chronic disease.

With several patients out over five years this strategy has served us well in select cases. A second issue surrounds the early introduction of experimental agents. Should we not have the opportunity to utilize drugs that have succeeded in Phase I trials, (and are thereby known to be safe for human administration), for patients whose cancer tissue reveals a favorable profile ex-vivo? I, for one, would relish the opportunity to administer second-generation EGFr-TKIs to c-MET inhibitors, to appropriately selected candidates. Smart drugs need smart mechanisms to get to market.

With the advent of lung cancer awareness month we have the opportunity to educate the public and expand awareness of the desperate need for advances in this disease. The disparity in funding for lung cancer patients compared with ovarian or breast cancer patients is disturbing. For every lung cancer death, there are five to 10 times more dollars expended on research to prevent breast and ovarian cancer deaths. While we applaud the successes in breast and ovarian cancer treatment we encourage lung cancer patients to call your congressperson to make lung cancer a front burner issue.

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One of our most gratifying success stories is Pat Merwin, now four years since diagnosis. Pat has organized a local (Long Beach, CA) observance of the national lung cancer awareness vigil to be held on Tuesday, November 13. I could not be happier than to be the invited speaker for this important occasion and to be with many of my patients.

Empowering Patients Towards Personalized Cancer Care

We have one more guest blogger to introduce during Dr. Nagourney’s absence: Patricia Merwin. Pat just celebrated her fourth anniversary of wellness after receiving a diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer.

In July of 2011, I attended a local TEDx conference in Long Beach, CA where Dr. Robert Nagourney gave a compelling talk about the nature of his work and the future of cancer care. TED is a global organization with a mission to “share ideas worth spreading,” a very appropriate forum for Dr. Nagourney to share his insights into cancer and how to defeat it.

Just three months earlier, at another TEDx event in the Netherlands, Dave deBronkart also gave a talk about the future of cancer care.  Dave deBronkart, better known as “E-patient Dave,” was diagnosed in January 2007 with a rare and terminal kidney cancer.  Given a dismal prognosis, Dave refused to cede his life to “standard care.”  Instead, he turned to a group of fellow patients online and found the information that eventually led to a treatment that saved his life. Dave deBronkart has since become a prolific online patient advocate and an internationally renowned speaker on the subject of patient empowerment and participatory medicine.

Like e-Patient Dave, I was given a “dismal prognosis” when I was diagnosed in 2008 with advanced metastatic lung cancer.  I too refused to cede my life to the standard protocol of the day. But it was not my health care providers who led me to Dr. Nagourney, it was a close friend.  Empowered with the knowledge that it was possible to improve my odds for survival, I chose functional profile testing (EVA-PCD®) to help determine my personalized treatment plan. It was a wise, informed decision resulting in the best possible outcome.  I have since become an online patient advocate, spreading the word to thousands of other patients so that they can become knowledgeable about this important test that could save their lives.

According to Dr. Nagourney, “Every system performs exactly as it was designed to perform. The current system of medical oncology provides adequate care for the average patient. There is little room for true, individualized care, for it disrupts the norm.”  But every patient with cancer has the same objective. To find the treatment that will work for “me.”  With a system skewed toward averages and away from the individual, the path to personalized medicine must be to empower the person with the most at stake – the patient. Dr. Nagourney says, “Today’s patient must become his or her own best advocate.”

More and more, patients are turning to online forums and other patient groups, not just for support, but to seek and share the latest news and information about treatments, side effects, tests, etc. If two heads are better than one, then thousands of engaged patients should, at the very least, provide good food for thought, “ideas worth spreading.”

Dr. Nagourney believes that “it’s in the online trenches where the real, personal war of cancer is being waged.  The old paradigm, that knowledge runs downhill from academics to practitioners to patients is being turned upside down as empowerment goes from the bottom up, not just from the top down.”  I’m sure e-Patient Dave would agree, along with countless other e-patients like him.

Scientifically-based Functional Profile Under Fire

Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried.” I am reminded of this quote by a “conversation” that recently took place on a cancer patient forum.

A patient wrote that they had requested that tissue be submitted for sensitivity analysis and their physician responded by describing this work as a scam. A scam is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as slang for a “fraudulent business scheme.”

Continuing Churchill’s thread, we might respond, “that laboratory directed therapies are the worst form of cancer therapy, except for all the others that have been tried.”

Using functional profiling we measure the effect of drugs, radiation, growth factor withdrawal and signal transduction inhibition upon human tumors. Using our extensive database we compare the findings with the results of similar patients – by diagnosis and treatment status – to determine the most active and least toxic drug or combination for each patient.

The test isn’t perfect. Some patient’s cancer cells (about 5 – 7 percent of the time), do not survive the transport and processing, so no assay can be performed at all. Some patients are resistant to all available drugs and combinations. And finally, based on the established performance characteristics of the test, we can only double or in some circumstances triple, the likelihood of a clinical response.  This is all well documented in the peer-reviewed literature.

Despite this, it appears that in the eyes of some beholders these strikingly good results constitute a “scam.” So let us, in the spirit of fairness, and academic discourse examine their results.

First, it must be remembered that today in 2012 only a minority of cancer patients actually show objective response to available cancer therapies. Five-year survivals, the benchmark of success for advanced disease in oncology (those whose disease has spread beyond the primary site), have not changed in more than five decades.

The highly lauded clinical trial process, according to a study from the University of Florida, only provides a better outcome for a new drug over an old one, once for every seven clinical trials conducted

More disturbing, only one out of 14 clinical trials provide a survival advantage of 50 percent or greater for the successful treatment group.

According to a study from Tuft’s University, it takes 11 years and more than $1,000,000,000 dollars for a new drug to receive FDA approval.

And in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine only 8 percent of drugs that complete Phase I (safe for human use) ever see the light of day for clinical therapy. This is the legacy of NCCN-guided, University-approved, ASCO-authorized clinical therapeutics programs to date.

As a practicing medical oncologist I am only too familiar with the failings of our modern clinical trial system. Having witnessed the good outcomes of our own patients on assay-directed protocols whose benefits derive from the intelligent use of objective laboratory data for the selection of chemotherapy drugs, I for one will NEVER return to business-as-usual oncology, regardless of what moniker the naysayers might choose to attach to this approach.

Gee (G719X) Whiz: Novel Mutations and Response to Targeted Therapies

In a recent online forum a patient described her experience using Tarceva as a therapy for an EGFR mutation negative lung cancer. For those of you familiar with the literature you will know that Lynch and Paez both described the sensitizing mutations that allow patients with certain adenocarcinoma to respond beautifully to the small molecule inhibitors.  The majority of these mutations are found in Exon 19 and Exon 21, within the EGFR domain. Response rates for the EGFR-TKI (gefitinib and erlotinib) clearly favor mutation positive patients. Depending upon the study, mutation positive patients have response rates from 53 – 100 percent, generally around 70 percent, while mutation negative response patients have a response rate of 0 – 25 percent, generally about 10 percent.So why don’t all the mutation positive patients respond and conversely why do some mutation negative patients respond?

The story outlined in this online forum gives some insight. The individual in question carried a rare, and only recently recognized, Exon 18 mutation known as a G719X. This uncommon form of mutation had previously been unknown and few laboratories knew to test for it. Nonetheless, G719X positive patients respond to erlotinib and related agents. Indeed, there may be reason to believe that the more potent irreversible EGFR/HER2 dual inhibitor HKI-272, may be even more selective for this point mutation.

The excellent and durable response described by this individual, would not have been possible had the patient’s first physician followed the rules. That is, had her physician refused to give erlotinib to an (putatively) EGFR mutation negative patient she might well not be here to tell her story. More to the point, her good response (a clinical observation) led to the next level of investigation, namely the identification of this specific EGFR variant

The lessons from this experience are numerous. The first is that cancer biology is complex and, to paraphrase E.O. Wilson, was not put on earth for us to necessarily figure it out. The second, is that molecular biologists can only seek and identify that which they know about apriori.  To wit, if you don’t know about it (G719X) and you don’t have a test for it, and you don’t know to look for it, then it’s a virtual certainty that you aren’t going to find it.

The premise of our work at Rational Therapeutics is that the observation of a biological signal identifies a candidate for therapy whether we understand or recognize the target. Crizotinib was originally developed as a clinical therapy for patients who carried the CMET mutation. Serendipity led to the recognition that the responding subpopulation was actually carrying a heretofore-unrecognized ALK gene rearrangement. Sorafenib was originally evaluated for the treatment of BRAF mutation positive diseases. Yet it was the drug’s cross-reactivity with the VGEF tyrosine kinases that lead to its broad clinical applications. Each of these phenomena represents accidental successes. Were it not for the clinical observation of response in patients, the investigators conducting these trials would have been unlikely to make the discoveries that today provide such good clinical responses in others.

To put it quite simply, these patients and their disease entities educated the molecular biologists.

When we first identified lung cancer as a target for gefitinib, and began to administer the closely related erlotinib to lung cancer patients, neither Lynch nor Paez had identified the sensitizing EGFR mutations. That had absolutely no impact upon the excellent responses that we observed. It didn’t matter why it worked, but that it worked.  While the EGFR story has now been well-described, might we not use functional analytical platforms (functional profiling) to gain insights into the next, and the next generation of drugs and therapies that target pathways like MEK, ERK, SHH, FGFR, PI3K, etc., etc., etc. . . .

If It is Too Good to Be True . . .

The February 12, 2012, CBS 60 Minutes covered a story that has sparked a great deal of interest among cancer patients and medical professionals. The topic was an investigator named Anil Poti who, while working at Duke University developed a laboratory platform for the study of human lung cancer.

Using molecular profiling, Dr. Poti and his collaborators, reported their capacity to distinguish responding and non-responding cancer patients, providing survival curves that were nothing short of astonishing. I recall attending the original lectures given by these investigators at the American Association of Cancer Research meeting several years ago.

As an investigator in the field of drug response prediction, working in lung cancer I had a particular interest in their platform and I was extremely impressed by the outcomes they reported. At the time, I wondered how the static measurement of gene profiles could possibly characterize the nuances of human biology, to encompass the epigenetic, siRNA, pseudogene, non-coding DNA and protein kinetics that ultimately characterize the human phenotype. Nonetheless, with such compelling data I was prepared to be convinced.

That is until a relatively unheralded report in the Cancer Letter raised concerns by several biostatisticians regarding the reproducibility of Dr. Poti’s findings. And then more comments were followed by a full NIH investigation. A panel of biostatisticians was convened and a formal report provided the explanation for Dr. Poti’s excellent results.

They had been invented. The clinical outcomes were not real results. The findings had been retrofitted to match the patient responses and this was the subject of the 60 Minutes report.

What the 60 Minutes report did not address however, was the real problem. That being the inability of contemporary genetic profiling to truly define human biology. For all the reasons enumerated above, siRNA, non-coding DNA, etc., the simple measurement of gene sequences cannot accurately predict biological behavior. This is what the 60 Minutes reporters and the physicians they interviewed, never discussed. The problem at hand is not an errant investigator but an errant scientific community. Our love affair with the gene that began in 1953 (Watson and Crick) has now been confronted by a most heartbreaking example of infidelity (pun intended).

Genes do not make us what we are; they only (sometimes) permit us to become what we are, with the vagaries of transcription and translation lying between.

This leads us to the reasons I find this so critically important:

  1. I cannot stress strongly enough that this is NOT what I do. Genomic analysis (their work) and functional analysis (our work) are distinctly different platforms.
  2. I strenuously resist any attempt on the part of anyone to tar me or my work with this brush.
  3. It is precisely because genomic analysis cannot accurately predict cancer patient outcomes, that these investigators found it necessary to invent their data.
  4. Despite this, functional analyses can and do provide these types of predictive results in lung cancers and other diseases as we have reported in numerous publications.
  5. Finally, while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, this is one instance in which I would prefer to decline the compliment.

The Death of Christopher Hitchens

Among the more colorful writers, orators and pundits in the later part of the 20th Century and the early part of the 21st was Christopher Hitchens. Born in England in 1949, he moved to the United States where he became famous for his deeply held political views. An outspoken critic of injustice, he called it as he saw it. While his political leanings were mostly liberal, he was willing to take on the establishment on both sides of the political isle when he saw injustice and political hypocrisy.

Christopher Hitches died at age 62 from cancer of the esophagus. Although unapologetic for his use of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, his lifestyle may have contributed to his diagnosis. What saddens me most is the possibility that he could have done better. And didn’t.

Like so many celebrities when they are diagnosed with cancer, Hitchens entered a realm that I call, “social medicine.” Not to be confused with socialized medicine and related political issues, social medicine is the process whereby the rich and famous receive care from the “right” doctors. These luminaries, through their channels and connections, are hand carried to the most famous physicians in the country. Their prominent and widely published ivory tower investigators then provide the best care money can buy. Yet, more often than not it is exactly the same therapy that they would have received from their home-town oncologists, who read the same journals, attend the same meetings and adhere to the same NCCN guidelines as the “best and the brightest” academics. We then conveniently chalk these patient’s failures up to the biology of the disease and the patient’s drug resistance rather than examining the more discomforting reality that protocol therapy doesn’t work for famous patients any better than it does is for anyone else.

But what if these patients just got the wrong treatment? What if the drugs these doctors chose were the very best for many, but not right for them? What if the right treatment was just right around the corner, but these prominent academics couldn’t see it? What if these patients had submitted a tumor sample for an EVA-PCD® assay and knew which drug or combinations would kill their cancer cells?

It isn’t that Christopher Hitchens or Steven Jobs are more important than any other patient. Their collective suffering and the losses to their families are no greater than any other cancer patient who confronts this illness. It’s just that they are famous and we know about it from the beginning to the end. We watch as these patients suffer through the toxicities and side effects of randomly administered therapies. And, in the case of Hitchens we are provided a blow-by-blow description in his writings. Unlike other patients who seek their care outside of the limelight, these celebrities are above the fray, protected by their handlers, PR agents and managers – they are unapproachable. With Jobs or Hitchens I would have relished the opportunity to offer any assistance possible, and through contacts at Apple I actually tried, but to no avail.

These individuals suffer and die in the public eye. Like salt in a wound, investigators like my colleagues and myself who are engaged in the pursuit of better, more intelligently delivered therapies, suffer with them. No, they are not more important, but it just seems so when you watch it every day on television, online, or in the print media, you clearly see an “in your face” example of a failing paradigm of cancer therapeutics.